Two laptops containing the personal information of Hong Kong’s 3.7 million registered voters have been stolen. A statement released by the Hong Kong Electoral Office confirmed the stolen data included names, addresses and identity card numbers of voters.
According to reports, the laptops were lifted out of a locked room on Lantau Island — the room itself was a backup venue for the chief executive elections held over the weekend.
The good news is that the data is encrypted, meaning those who stole it have their work cut out for them decoding it before they can use it.
Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data has confirmed it will launch a “routine probe” into the issue. Police also said that they are treating the case as theft, but no arrests have been made so far.
Citizens are less than thrilled with this recent development.
“This is unacceptable,” Charles Mok, a lawmaker representing the city’s IT sector, wrote on Facebook. “There’s no reason why the data was stored on computers that could have been stolen; they could have encrypted it on the cloud.”
While the city has 3.7 million registered voters, only 1,194 votes were eligible to be cast on Sunday.
Since Hong Kong’s separation from British rule in 1997, the city has designated a pre-selected group of voters from its business and political establishment to represent the population.
“Why did they need to store the full register [for the chief executive election] instead of just the list of 1,194 ‘election’ committee members?” one reddit user asked.